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A new account of the life and policies of the first German chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, this concise historical-biography reflects, for the first time in English, the historical shift in emphasis from the traditional political-economic approach to the more complex social-economic one of post—World War II scholarship.
Since the middle of the 1950s, much new material on Bismarck and nineteenth-century Germany and new interpretations of existing material have been published in Germany, Great Britain, and the United States. Professor George O. Kent’s brilliant synthesis, drawing on this mass of material, examines changes in emphasis in post—World War II scholarship. The book, particularly in the historiographical notes and bibliographical essay, provides the serious student with an invaluable guide to the intricacies of recent Bismarckian scholarship. For the general reader, the main text presents a picture of the man, the issues, and the age in the light of modern scholarship.
The major shift in historical emphasis described in this new account is the importance scholars give to the period 1877–79, the years of change from free trade to protectionism, rather than to 1870–71 the founding of the Reich. Bismarck’s political machinations, particularly his willingness to explore the possibilities of a coup d’état, are more fully discussed here than in any other book.